Archive for the ‘2010 Poynter College Fellowship’ Category

I know it’s been just about 12 days since I last posted and since my first day at my new job, which means I’m even more behind on blogging. (Eep.) But I’m half-at peace with that because I had to wrap up some projects at my internship, I changed newsrooms with no days in-between, Jeff came to visit for a few days and I just spent four days in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Things should normalize now that I’ll begin my regular work schedule. In the meantime, I’m glad I could spend a few days at The Poynter Institute to help out this year’s crop of college fellows.

May 19. Walking back to the hotel with the fellows after dinner at Red Mesa Cantina.

It was wonderful to meet the fellows — some of whom are, surprisingly, older than I am! — and see Sara Quinn and Al Tompkins again. Two other fellows from last year, Abbey and Graham, joined me to talk to the fellows and coach them along on their projects. I’m really excited to see how the projects turn out.

Speaking of projects, I’m also pretty excited about having been a part of this:

May 21. Yep, that's me, getting in touch with my inner gymnast, with the help of fellow Cliff Davis and St. Petersburg Times deputy photo editor Bruce Moyer. The photographer for this conceptual shoot is John Pendygraft. Photo by Sarah Vasquez.

I don’t know how much I can say about this conceptual photo shoot, except: Details forthcoming. And a behind-the-scenes video, too.

Anyway, back to real life and my regular work schedule — and, hopefully, a more regular blogging schedule.

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The 2010 Poynter College Fellows disbanded more than 48 hours ago, and already I miss everybody.

That said, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, when I arrived in St. Petersburg a little more than two weeks ago.

Our official group photo.

  • I had driven almost 20 hours from Missouri to St. Petersburg, Fla. (with help from my parents, who drove down with me).
  • I also missed my own graduation ceremony to arrive at the Fellowship on time.
  • I had just completed a very rigorous final semester of college, during which I also had a part-time job and worked editing shifts at the paper.
  • I had just packed, moved and cleaned my apartment in almost exactly 24 hours, with help from Jeff and my roommate Shelby.
  • I was/am on the brink of beginning a summer photo internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in early June.
  • And — I will admit — I felt a little burned out on journalism.

In the trip from Missouri to Florida, I spent the majority of my waking hours wondering what the hell I was doing. Why couldn’t I have just taken a break during the three weeks between graduation and my internship? Why couldn’t I have actually walked in my graduation ceremony and mugged for the camera with my fellow graduates? Why did I want to apply for a fellowship that would mean an intensive two weeks of even more journalism after my intensive four-year collegiate experience?

But 24 hours into the fellowship, I knew why.

From bottom, clockwise: Megan, Charlotte, Isaac, me, Jaclyn and Nezile. Photo by Eli Francovich.

The fellowship brought together 32 young journalists from vastly different backgrounds, with vastly different experiences and with vastly different perspectives — and I couldn’t have asked for a better group. I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn something from every single person there. There was no cutthroat competitiveness or need to do better than everybody else.


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The past few days have gone by in a flurry. Projects were due at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, so of course Tuesday night was madcap. Since then, we’ve been presenting and watching our projects, and celebrating.

Here’s a little photo essay of the past few days.

Tuesday night, i.e., the big night. Left to right: Emily helps Chris P. while Laura and Eli concentrate on their projects.

Wednesday, daytime, was packed with sessions and last-minute project tweaks. Wednesday, nighttime, called for a tasty celebration at Primi Urban, a wonderful Italian spot on Fourth Street North.

We all ended Wednesday night at O'Maddy's, where we sang karaoke and danced and celebrated.


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The grand #pcf10 scheme is completed and on-line for your viewing pleasure!

Click on the image to view the video!

A few things to note:

  1. Why yes, we incorporated the chicken dance.
  2. Why yes, we included a demon sheep.
  3. Why no, The Poynter Institute is not — in any way — affiliated with the making of this video, except for the fact that we’re all College Fellows here.


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Earlier this evening, the security guard at Poynter spotted something neat outside in the Poynter courtyard.

It was an egret!

Pretty bird.

It was gorgeous and regal, and from the front, it appears to be an almost comically thin bird.

I took more photos of it than just this. The damn thing was practically posing for me. But it sure was a beauty.

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Saturday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., was nothing short of epic.

At the Emerald Bar.

We started the night in a local dive bar, where one of the Poynter College Fellowship coordinators invited us to see some of her friends in the band that was performing there.

The sign reads, "Help Wanted: No Irish Need Apply"

After a little while, we left for another downtown bar. When Eli couldn’t get in, though, I left with him and suggested we have a photo adventure around town. That idea was botched when we ran into Gabe and Charlotte — and Gabe needed to retrieve his car, which had just been towed.

Once we’d driven all over St. Petersburg and finally found the towed-car lot, we decided to end the night at a local hookah bar.


And we stayed there until about 3:30 a.m. Gotta love those crazy-long nights!

Check out a few more photos I didn’t blog here.

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If anything, I learned these two mantras during my three summers of working at Philmont:

Zip up your mansuit.


Keep it classy.

Well — I’m keeping it classy at Poynter.

My workspace in the amphitheatre at Poynter, on Thursday.

Note the wine glass (containing water). And the big tub of Twizzlers.

That’s how we roll here.

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We fellows at The Poynter Institute are scheming.

I’m not going to tell you anything about it until it’s done. But here’s a snapshot (literally):

Shhh -- secret!

Aaand — that’s about it for now!

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Earlier this afternoon, Sara told us that there would be some important industry people in the Poynter Institute building later in the evening. I immediately perked up.

“Can we meet Katharine Weymouth?” I asked.

Sara laughed and said that, since it would be pretty crowded, some of us could sit in the back of the room. So we did.

Katharine Weymouth is the CEO of Washington Post Media and publisher of The Washington Post. She’s also the granddaughter of the venerable Katharine Graham, who steered The Washington Post through the Watergate investigations that elevated the paper’s reputation.

Tonight, Weymouth was the guest speaker at a town hall-like gathering of journalists — most of whom were female — to kick off a 1.5-day colloquium inspired by the book The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press. After answering some introductory questions from Poynter president Karen Dunlap, Weymouth fielded questions from the women journalists in attendance.

First things first: Weymouth is a lot younger than any of us students had thought. This should have come as no surprise, though, as Vogue published photos and a profile of Weymouth back in July 2009 — a report I’d skimmed.

Now, a summary of some of the things Weymouth said. Most of these are just single quotes of hers that I thought epitomized her whole train of thought about a subject. Please note that these may not be her words verbatim, but they’re pretty damn close.

  • “It’s still the stars among us that make it.” — after noting that women in the industry often have to be doubly good to receive any raises or promotions
  • Newspapers have a bigger audience than ever before, thanks to the Web. The challenge is how to pay for it.
  • “You can’t get lazy; you can’t get complacent.” — after saying that competition makes The Washington Post better
  • “The worst thing you can do after making a mistake is to freeze.” — while explaining how she had to move on after last summer’s salons controversy
  • Young journalists should go to news outlets where they would grow to become the journalists they want to be, as well as where there’s enough resources to fund those opportunities.
  • “I love to see the presses run… I am a print person by training and habit.” — when asked what one thing she enjoys about newspapers
  • “There is no ‘print’ and ‘on-line.’ It’s journalism.” — regarding the convergence of the Post’s print and on-line newsrooms

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Today was another thoroughly engaging, stimulating day of discussion, conversation, revelation and collaboration among my fellow Poynter College Fellows.

You’d think that throwing 32 young journalists together for an intensive two-week workshop would be the worst kind of disaster possible, but we’re all engaged, respectful, honest and eager to learn. I think it’s safe to say I’ve learned at least as much in the past 72 hours as I have in the past three years.

But today, the photos are all about the chicken dance.

Nezile's sexy rendition of the chicken dance.

Okay, let’s back up a bit. We need context.

Before beginning another lunchtime session, Roy Peter Clark brought out his accordion, and six of us performed our own renditions of the chicken dance to the music he played.

Okay, that’s enough context.

How Gabe opened his version of the chicken dance.

How Gabe ended his version of the chicken dance... with Poynter online managing editor Steve Myers, who happens to be Gabe's cousin's husband.

The chicken-dance-off came down to Nezile and Gabe…

As soon as Roy played the first note, Gabe struck this pose... and Nezile dropped to the ground for her dramatic beginning.

…and Nezile won!

Of course, that’s not the only thing we did today. Check out a few more photos here.

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A few facts about Poynter’s senior scholar Roy Peter Clark.

This is Roy Peter Clark.

  1. He’s a Gleek.
  2. He plays rock piano.
  3. He claims to have seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at least three times.

He’s also an incredible instructor whose discussion about writing I enjoyed this afternoon. Especially when the inverted pyramid model somehow became the martini model.

The martini model for newswriting. It's legit.

Later, we checked out gear from Poynter, which means that a substantial number of Canon 5D Mark II’s are now distributed among budding photographers. I’m pumped about this, as you can well imagine.

Ryan was a patient model for everyone.

After we played around with the gear, which also included video cameras and Marantz audio recorders, eight of us went to the Red Mesa Cantina for drinks and dinner. On the way home, I freaked out my two passengers — Emily and Kendall — by taking photos while driving.


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First, in case you forgot…

I’m in Florida.

Rainy one minute, sunny the next.

Anyway, today was our second day at the Poynter Institute as Poynter College Fellows, and today we received our “beats” — basically, assigned geographic areas with which we became familiar this afternoon by exploring and talking to people.

The beats.

So Emily, Briana, Kendall and I explored an inland part of St. Petersburg — a section of the city that includes the Grand Central District, Tropicana Field, the medical/hospital complex, the police headquarters and a lot of residential areas.

We also discovered a lot of independent entrepreneurship along Central Avenue — a lot of people just throwing all their investments and savings into opening up a specialty shop and hoping it works out. And, for those with whom we talked, it seemed to be working out so far.

Inside the On Pointe Dancewear shop on Central Avenue.

Tomorrow — lots of workshops and lots of discussion! It seems like we’ve all become comfortable with each other enough to allow for a free-flowing, honest discussion, which is obviously a great thing. I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.

Check out a few more photos I didn’t blog here.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Today was our first day of the 2010 Poynter College Fellowship program at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

By “our,” I’m referring to 31 other college students/recent graduates as well as myself. This means that I’ll be learning with and from 31 other young journalists for the first two weeks of summer in Florida.

The view from the Poynter parking lot isn't too shabby.

This is why I missed my own graduation ceremony on Saturday evening: to arrive at Poynter on time.

I’m not sure how much of the program we are allowed to disclose, but for now, I’ll leave it at this:

We get 24/7 access to the Poynter building, its beautiful facilities and its many resources.

Just part of the Poynter facilities.

We’re working alongside and learning with/from some really talented journalists.

This is a sphere made of printing blocks. Try and figure out the words spelled out.

And we’re all pretty excited to be here.

The sign that greeted us as we arrived this afternoon.

Sara and Al have promised us a rigorous two weeks here that may or may not involve a few all-nighters, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be tweeting and blogging over this period of time. But I’ll do my best. But I’m here to learn — so that comes first.

And, of course, I’ll try to continue posting spring break film (gulp).

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